Regarding abillities

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Regarding abillities

Post by julie.chan » Fri Dec 08, 2017 04:15

So, one feature of Arcmage (I assume inherited from Magic or something considering that Duel Masters has it too) is that some cards either have or grant abilities that have very specific meanings and are given a name. I think this is fantastic; it helps to standardize common effects, unlike in Yu-Gi-Oh where every card has to reinvent the wheel.

One thing I think is a bad idea, though, is that these abilities are usually not defined on the card. I'm looking at this game as a new player, and I'm seeing all these creatures and other cards that mention abilities like "Sanctuary", "Flying", and whatever else there is, and I'm left wondering what that means. There's a page on the wiki, but it's a bit of a hassle to have to go to a Web page indexing all of them every time I see an ability I've never seen before or simply forget exactly what it does. This could become a real problem in the distant future: if there are several dozen different terms for abilities you have to remember, it becomes much more difficult to dive into as a beginner.

I would like to propose a simple solution, which is used by Duel Masters (and Kaijudo, its more recent iteration): for every card that either has an ability, or has an effect that has something to do with the effect of an ability (e.g. one that grants the ability to creatures), always denote the ability, once per card, in parentheses.

On a creature's text, that would look like:

Aggressive (I must attack if able.)

On a card that grants an ability, for example, what that ability does only needs to be mentioned once. So for example, the text of the card, Sanctuary, might be:

Level 3: All my residents have Sanctuary.
Level 5: All residents in your cities have Sanctuary.
Level 7: All creatures in your army have Sanctuary.
(A creature with Sanctuary can't be the target of abilities or cards that an opponent controls.)

If there is any interest in this, I would be happy to help implement it. One thing that would be really useful is if the software that is used to generate cards did one of these two things automatically with a simple tag (which could also take care of the formatting rules for ability names). There could just be a database of abilities with two descriptions of what they do, one for permanent statuses of creatures, and one for other uses that appears at the end of the card's description. The software could simply replace e.g. an "<myability>" tag for the permanent status version, and e.g. a, "<ability>" tag for the other versions. The software would mark-up each one appropriately, then place the personal text if there is exactly one <myability> tag and no <ability> tags (after the <myability> tag), or place the general text on the bottom of the card otherwise. <myability> would be forced to be its own separate paragraph, and if it isn't, it would be treated the same as an <ability> tag.

Of course, there would be situations where the definition part would be unnecessary, such as when a card simply targets other cards that have a certain ability. In such a case, card makers could simply use manual formatting the same as they do now. No need to include irrelevant information, after all; if a card just kills creatures with "Sanctuary" or counters the effect of "Peaceful", you don't need to be reminded what that ability is on that card. It's easy enough to look up for deck-building purposes (possibly from some of your other cards), and in gameplay you can get a reminder by reading the text of the card you'd be targeting. You probably wanted to look at the specific card, anyway.

Please do let me know what you think. :)
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Re: Regarding abillities

Post by Desttinghim » Fri Dec 08, 2017 04:47

+1 from me. This is an issue I had been meaning to bring up eventually. Magic also does this, except for cards where there isn't enough space for it to fit (cards with lots of abilities or more complicated rules text). I like the idea of the database integration and tagging as well.
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Re: Regarding abillities

Post by ngoeminne » Sun Dec 10, 2017 12:35

Hey Julie,

We have discussed adding the ablities explanations to the cards before, and agreed to not include it on the cards themselves. Mainly to avoid taking to much card-space. I personally think it is not a problem having to learn the abilities, or the game itself. New players are mostly introduced to the game by someone who knows, and explains it. The knowledge of the abilities just comes with that almost automagically.

Also when your deck building, you'll investigate what cards you need, then you also take the time to understand it functions, abilities, tactics and so forth. Then once you play, you know them already, and are also ready to explain them to your opponent.

It is true, that if you're completely new to the game, and you have no one to explain it, it might be a bit hard. But then again, if you don't have an opponent, you won't go and play the game, I guess.

Then again I do like the idea of having tags for the card, listing all their abilities, and just add them to the card by something like the <ability> tag you proposed.

I'm glad to see again more traction for wtactics/arcmage.

But what we really really need is more decks and balanced cards. And an iteration about the rules (like the removal or VP that Louis suggested). And some rebalancing of the current cards (like farmland).

I'll also need to get Santi back on making artwork. And maybe we could contact Rouge Commet (something that snowdrop did ages ago) and see if they again wish to share some of the artwork.

Kind regards,
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Re: Regarding abillities

Post by julie.chan » Sun Dec 10, 2017 15:17

Mainly to avoid taking to much card-space.
This seems to me highly misguided. Most cards have excess card space as-is. Adding a short blurb isn't going to hurt that. It's certainly much less than the amount of space currently wasted by massive line breaks.

Also, even if space runs out, the layout should be designed in such a way that text size can be reduced to accommodate. Yu-Gi-Oh does that. If that still isn't enough, you could allow a card to not have the explanation, but at that point you're talking about a single line, so you could just remove the flavor text. If flavor text is already removed, the text is shrunk down to the smallest possible level, and you still don't have a single line to spare, then might I suggest that the card is overly complex?
New players are mostly introduced to the game by someone who knows, and explains it. The knowledge of the abilities just comes with that almost automagically.
I can't say I agree with that. I've read the description of what the abilities the cards I printed have to, and I don't remember them.

I think this idea is just short-sighted. Yeah, it might be feasible to remember all the abilities in use now. But what about if there are 20 abilities 5 years down the line? It's not so feasible then. At that point, the whole abilities system just becomes a barrier to entry for new players. If there was a really good reason, I'd accept it, but right now we're talking about having blank space in the cards' description, or having flavor text at the bottom. I don't think that's worth it.
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